Morecambe Step Back From The Edge of the Abyss.
Friday 29th December 2017 19.45 hrs
Morecambe entertained Yeovil on a wet and windy evening by the Irish Sea on Friday evening. The two clubs have met no less than eighteen times previously, with the Glovers slightly ahead with seven wins to the Shrimps` six. None of their previous meetings had anything like the significance that the one tonight at the Globe did however. The fact that nobody else from League Two would play until the following day gave the Shrimps scant consolation that whatever was to happen, they would not be bottom of the Division until at least Saturday if they were to lose again. Following what Manager Jim Bentley described as an `alarmingly poor` display against Notts County at the same venue on Boxing Day, Jim again shuffled his pack with five changes from the team which started that match. Yeovil arrived in nineteenth position, just two places higher but a whole five points better off than their hosts, having won at Cheltenham three days ago.
The game could not have started worse for Morecambe. As Steven Old and Callum Lang basically got in each other`s way, Jake Gray simply made his way past them into the Morecambe penalty box and blasted the ball past Barry Roche to put the visitors one goal up. This was with just 25 seconds on the clock. With ten minutes played, Yeovil had forced two corners to Morecambe`s none but Andy Fleming had warmed Artur Krysiak`s hands with a decent effort after three minutes. The home side produced their second effort on goal after twelve minutes when Kevin Ellison blasted the ball over the bar following a scramble in the Glovers` area after a long throw from Michael Rose. A minute later, Vadaine Oliver tried his luck from all of 35 yards out and although the shot beat Artur Krysiak in the visitors` goal, the ball bounced back off the post and Yeovil survived. In fact, they not only survived but actually flourished. Only seventeen minutes were on the clock when Otis Khan robbed Rose, exchanged passes with Gray on the edge of the Shrimps` area and then unleashed a sublime curling strike which had Roche clawing at thin air as it whistled past him into the top corner of the net to pile up the agony for the Lancashire club and its supporters.
Yeovil basically just needed to keep possession after this tremendously positive opening. Oliver had a good opportunity to reduce the arrears after about half an hour but headed Rose`s precise free kick over the bar but other than this, they had little to trouble them during the first half. Max Muller was booked for a bad foul on Sam Surridge and lasted only another quarter of an hour before his Manager decided to withdraw him altogether, presumably fearing that the German might be sent off otherwise.
What Jim Bentley said to his players at half time is probably best left to the imagination. However, there is only so much anyone can say to players who seemed to be collectively too poor to compete at this level. After all, nobody can make a silk purse out of a sow`s ear and Jim`s options - to basically revert to the team which let him, their supporters and themselves down so badly three days ago - have always been severely limited. But whatever he did say - it worked...
The Shrimps belatedly at least put on more of a show at the start of the second half. Fleming narrowly missed with a shot after 52 minutes and within four minutes, Sam Lavelle had two headed chances from Rose`s corners. He missed with the first one and virtually hit Krysiak with the second one but at least the hosts were getting closer. With the pressure gradually building and Oliver forcing Krysiak into an excellent save after being played-in by Old, the Shrimps finally made the breakthrough they needed after 72 minutes. Callum Lang made good progress down the left and took a shot which was blocked only for Kevin Ellison`s follow-up to be booted off the line by Connor Smith. But the ball spun up into the air and Oliver was quickest to react and head it into the Glovers net to reduce the arrears on the night. Encouraged by this success, the Shrimps continued to boss the contest. Their belated efforts were rewarded in the 79th minute when Lang made it Third Time Lucky when his header from Rose`s latest cross finally beat Krysiak to level the contest. But there were more twists in the tail still to come in this extraordinary match. First of all, in their second meaningful attack of the half, Yeovil went ahead again. In their first one after 84 minutes, Tom James drew a fantastic save from Big Baz with a pile-driver of a free kick from 30 yards out. Then Omar Sowunmi went one better when he headed Gray`s cross past Roche in the eighty-sixth minute following a corner to give the visitors a seemingly unassailable lead. But straight from kick-off, Morecambe swept back down the pitch and Lang scored again to level the match at 3-3. Even then, the Shrimps continued to press and in injury time, substitute Alex Kenyon sent over a fabulous cross which Kevin Ellison brilliantly headed past Yeovil`s Polish goalkeeper to complete a simply phenomenal comeback for the home team.
Jim Bentley will sleep easier than his opposite number Darren Way tonight. The three points Yeovil`s players dropped on the road this evening mean that the Glovers have been well and truly dragged back into the pack scrapping for points right at the bottom of the EFL. As for Morecambe, regardless of whether or not Forest Green, Barnet or Chesterfield manage to get more than two points by tomorrow night, the Shrimps will start 2018 clear of the relegation positions. Despite their extremely poor performance during the first half, virtually the same team grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck and put on a battling performance which cannot help to give the players, management and fans alike more reason to feel positive about the future than was the case less than an hour before the end of the game. Well done the Shrimps. Well done Jimbo. Happy New Year everybody.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 5 Steven Old; 22 Max Muller (Y) (4 Alex Kenyon 40 mins); 16 Sam Lavelle; 24 Michael Rose (C)(Y); 11 Kevin Ellison (Y); 14 Luke Conlan; 9 Vadaine Oliver; 8 Andy Fleming (7 Garry Thompson 86 mins); 29 Callum Lang.
Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 10 Adam Campbell; 27 Luke Jordan; 17 Mitchell Lund; 21 Elliot Osborne.
Yeovil Town: 1 Artur Krysiak (Y); 5 Bevis Mugabe; 3 Nathan Smith (Y); 17 Omar Sowunmi; 23 Tom James; 10 Jake Gray; 4 Matthew Worthington; 8 Connor Smith; 7 Otis Khan (15 Jordan Green 73 mins); 13 Francois Zoko (C) (24 Olufela Olomola 70 mins); 14 Sam Surridge.
Subs not used: 12 Jonathan Maddison; 6 Keston Davies; 25 Sid Nelson; 30 Alefele Santos.